Bald eagle shot and stuffed in a bucket

Federally protected bird appears to have been shot at close range and left on the side of a dirt road

bald eagle
(Photo: Courtesy Alan Curtis, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife)

Officials are offering a $2,500 reward to help find the person(s) responsible for shooting a bald eagle at close range and discarding it in a bucket.

 Maine Game Warden Alan Curtis “was acting on a tip when he found the bird on Memorial Day” near a dirt road in Maine, reports USA TODAY.

The bald eagle was found dead in a bucket on Chain Lake Boulevard in Day Block Township, which is located near Washington County, according to a Friday Facebook post by Maine Warden Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Disrespectful and Malicious Killing

“The way (the eagle was disposed of) was certainly wrong … we need to find out who did it,” Curtis told USA TODAY.

Bald eagles are a federally-protected species, so the person(s) could face a fine of up to $100,000 and/or spend a year in prison, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service“Penalties increase for subsequent offenses and can include felony charges,” as reported by USA TODAY.

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Curtis confirmed it was not an accident, adding that an eagle’s 10-foot wingspan is “unmistakable.”

“The investigating game warden identified shot pellets at the scene and had the eagle X-rayed. The resulting X-ray highlighted dozens of shotgun pellets within its body,” the Maine Warden Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wrote Friday in a public Facebook post. “Due to the condition of the eagle, game wardens believe it was killed several weeks ago.

The Feds Want Answers

Under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Maine Operation Game Thief is offering an additional reward of $1,000.

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Anyone with information leading to the arrest and conviction of the bird’s killer(s) is encouraged to contact one of the following:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement: (207) 469-6842

Operation Game Thief: (800) 253-7887

Maine Game Warden Alan Curtis: (207) 215-7652